Unheralded student-staff responsible for set-up, tear down and everything in between
Attention that is given to George Brown athletics is usually reserved for the varsity athletes, and understandably so. But behind the scenes, there’s another team upon which all the others depend: the varsity events staff.
Much like The Dialog‘s newspaper racks, the 13-strong team of current and graduated students are everywhere if you look. With the weight of pre-game setup, post-game tear down and everything in between, the role comes with its fair share of responsibility.
“We’re the George Brown team that always has to win,” said varsity event specialist Federico de Jesus Cortes Ortiz. “It doesn’t matter the sport, it doesn’t matter the field, the court, the rival; we have to be on our A game. We can’t (lose), because what we do goes beyond a win or a loss.”
The work begins before a match, ensuring that the court or field is spick and span. From there comes a litany of tasks ranging from keeping statistics to ball running, all while presenting a professional face to coaches, athletes, referees and fans as representatives of the college.
“Live events are a high paced environment that keeps you on your toes,” manager of athletics and recreation Melanie Gerin-Lajoie said via e-mail. “Our student-staff has to be in sync, they need to communicate effectively with each other.”
Add to their workload the particulars of George Brown’s athletic facilities, and at times, the lack thereof. The Huskies varsity footprint isn’t limited to St. James and Casa Loma. Working the varsity events staff beat can mean hosting soccer at Etobicoke’s Centennial Park one night, followed by baseball at Scarborough’s Wishing Well Park the next.
Regardless of what and where, the recognition George Brown athletics receives does not match the quality of play. One who attends a Huskies varsity event will bear witness to the pressure cooker environment events staff often work in.
“It’s really fast-paced and then both teams and coaches get really intense,” baking and pastry arts management student Justine Perla said. “If you make one tiny mistake, they notice right away and even though you’re trying to fix it, at that moment they’re screaming at you.”
The staff works in an atmosphere abounding in passion. But the finest steel is forged in the hottest furnace. Whether it’s troubleshooting, time management or simply keeping one’s cool, this is a setting where valuable soft skills develop.
“You’ll find that working events, things often don’t happen the exact way you thought they would,” said project management graduate Luke Head. “You have to be able to rally with your teammates and our supervisor Federico, and just figure things out on the fly.”
In this learning environment, student-staff are building skills and habits they’ll carry on to future careers. And for those looking to immerse themselves in sports as a profession, it’s the place to be.
“I’m in the sport and event marketing program, so this is the type of environment that I want to be in,” said Rubina Hoque. “It would be nice to work for George Brown or other schools; after my program, we’ll see where this goes.”